Album Reviews

Morning Runner – Wilderness Is Paradise Now

(Parlophone) UK release date: 6 March 2006

Morning Runner - Wilderness Is Paradise Now It seems to have taken a lifetime for this album to come out. After all, legend has it that it was hearing this record playing in Parlophone HQ that inspired Chris Martin to rewrite Coldplay‘s X&Y album, and that’s been out for ages.

Worth the wait? Well, it’s more instantly grabbing and a lot less namby pamby than the Coldplay record, but at the same time there are obvious signs of this being the debut record of a band still to truly find their forte. It seems for a lot of the time that Matthew Greener’s vocals are carrying weak songs, and that loud guitar is trying to hide poorly thought out – maybe even unfinished – tracks.

There seems to be a beautiful idea in every song, but most seem like they’ve not been used to their full potential. In some ways it seems like Morning Runner are trying to maintain credibility by making their songs just a little too scrappy for your mum and dad to pinch your copy of the album to listen to in the car on the way to a James Blunt concert. It’s as though they’re afraid of being too likeable.

What they seem to have forfeited, though, is that their songs end up just a little too jumbled to be memorable. It’s not the kind of album you’re likely to suddenly find little bits of stuck in your head, which perhaps gives it a certain freshness with every listen, but that’s not going to earn them the status of many people’s New Favourite Band.

The vocals are awesome, and the production is pretty hot, but over eleven tracks their lack of composure or clarity of thought becomes wearing. Perhaps if Starsailor had made this record, they’d have saved themselves from becoming the laughing stock of the indie elite, but they probably wouldn’t be such a household name either.

Morning Runner have something special. You can just tell. It’s in there, just bursting to get out, but they haven’t quite managed to tame that inner beast. This is a better record than most that you’re likely to hear this year, but for a band so elegantly screaming ‘potential’, they’ve still got growing to do.

From the opening twenty-five seconds of It’s Not Like Everyone’s My Friend, that assertively roar the fuzzy guitar equivalent of ‘we’re no lightweight Coldplay wannabes’, through the-one-that-will-make-the-crowd-jump-up-and-down Gone Up In Flames, to the beautifully incomprehensible Oceans, there are moments of genius littered throughout this record, but the only thing that holds it together is the near constant guitar-made background noise. And no one needs that. Even The Cooper Temple Clause seem to have a better idea of when enough is enough.

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Morning Runner – Wilderness Is Paradise Now
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